Physical therapy is important when you’re recovering from surgery or dealing with injuries or conditions that cause pain and limit your mobility. Like other forms of health care, this practice has gone through the evolutionary process and formed the institution we recognize today.
Physical therapy is linked back to the Greeks in 460 B.C., when physicians such as Hippocrates and Hector suggested massage and hydrotherapy to promote healing in patients. The idea of physical therapy was not taken seriously until 1894 when a nursing group in England banded together to train others in the profession.
World Wars, Polio and Recovery
When World War I soldiers came home with missing limbs and other serious injuries, medical professionals had to find a way to help them cope. Although physical therapy was not mainstream, it was one of the most effective methods used by physicians to help increase mobility in amputees and others who suffered life-altering injuries.
In 1914, Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. was the first school of physical therapy opened in America. Shortly after, 14 additional schools were formed to help train therapists in the craft. As the benefits of this practice gained steam, the medical community began to pour resources into research, and publish their findings in medical journals.
When polio swept the nation, it left behind a wave of destruction. Many who survived the epidemic were left disabled. The number of people who needed help improving their mobility put a strain on physical therapists and raised the demand for advancement in the practice.
Post World War II, physical therapy was limited to hospital settings. As medicine and surgical techniques advanced and patients’ hospital stays shortened, therapy started to move outside of hospital walls. Patients who still needed rehabilitation after they were released from the hospital were able to go home and reap the benefits of therapy via outpatient centers.
When you compare physical therapy to other types of health care treatments in the United States, it’s still relatively new. However, the profession has gone through the process of evolution and has burgeoned into what it is today.
Unlike the days of old, people who have back pain, amputations and other debilitating conditions will not hesitate to seek out trained physical therapists to help them recover. If you need a medical massage or rehabilitation help, contact a licensed physical therapist immediately.
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